Quiet Nothingness

desert

There are times in our prayer lives that we feel God is absent, or we struggle to feel or hear God in prayer. Those dry periods of prayer are incredibly challenging, especially when trying to discern. It is not until the dry period of prayer ends that I understand the value of what feels like God’s silence.

In a conversation once with my spiritual director, we celebrated the end of a dry period of prayer. As we unpacked the dryness, I said, “It was quiet nothingness, but it was everything.”

Quiet nothingness was what my prayer felt like. There were many days I was thankful just to be able to get my mind quiet. When the quiet came, I heard nothing from God. Not only did I feel I could not hear God, I could not feel God in prayer. I found myself agitated and angry at God. More than ever, I needed to hear God’s voice. More than ever, I needed to feel the strong pull of the Holy Spirit towards a direction. There was nothing.

But quiet nothingness is everything. Only now, looking back, can I see that my desire for God remained. With the help of an incredible spiritual director, I held steady in my prayer. While I did not feel or hear God in prayer, I could look at my life and readily see God’s active hand working through others and in nature. I knew God was there with me as I ministered to and with others. I was surrounded by fruits of my prayer, signs of God’s living presence.

Quiet nothingness brought me to a place of trust, a place where I experienced God inviting me and trusting me to discern and make choices without the constant gift of consolation. Only now, standing on the other end, do I see that God was not all that quiet; God was inviting me to experience our relationship in a different way. And that understanding means everything to me.

About Becky Eldredge 118 Articles
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

21 Comments on Quiet Nothingness

  1. How lovely to consider that the nothingness and the desire expressed is sufficient. At 60, I experience almost no consolation. Nevertheless, the wonder of God’s work in and around my life astounds. So Grateful for your insight.

  2. I often watched old couples sit and just gaze at each other with no words passing. In prayer, I relish the moments that I can be centered and quiet enough to have “quiet nothingness.” My life is so full of noise and action, I feel like ” quiet nothingness” is a gift my Lord gives me where there are no words needed between us, no actions required, but instead a time we can gaze at each other. Sometimes that space can feel awkward especially at first. Sometimes my monkey mind wondered if I was listening or He was speaking, or if He was even there. Sticking with it even when there was that initial awkwardness, eventually allowed me to see the gift of “quiet nothingness” as “peaceful presence”

  3. Preparing for quiet nothingness! That is where I lose all sense and concept of time. Where I find the fullness of an empty mind and overflowing heart. Thank you Father!

  4. Wonderful reflections have often had moments not feeling God but I am never angry, have had a lot happening in my life, as we all have, but through it all,I knew God was there. Thank you Becky for putting my thoughts and feelings into words.

  5. I read somewhere that when nothing happens in our prayer, that nothingness is like a Pause in a our conversation with God.
    When nothing seems to be happening, we must know that God is at work.

    Thank you for your sharing.

    Joy

  6. Just now while reflecting on this post, a very dear friend of mine is also sending me text messages about how he feels like no matter how much he tries to call on God, there just seems to be no answer. And I told my friend that I do have those moments as well. In fact, lately I also could not understand why God seems to be nowhere in my prayers. Yet a tiny voice inside me is also saying that I should hold on and just trust. Yes, that is the key word here. Trust. And often, even in that quiet nothingness, the spirit comes to whisper in our hearts what God has been trying to tell us all along. It was in fact a necessary thing to happen in order to hear that faint voice of God. Thank you for sharing this reflection.

  7. Just today, as I touched again this computer to write my experience, many thoughts just came clearly that helped me to write down my experience on “quite nothingness.” But last night when I meditated on these for quite some time, I cannot hear him speak and even in my long waiting and wanting to hear him speak again for me…

    In the first morning while rising today, i thought of God by the sun that kissed my eyes to helped me “wake up” for another day. Then I realized that “Quite Nothingness” is God’s voice in different occasions; in the stillness of the night when I am alone typing my blog for him. He is so present in the tick·tack of the clock, and even now in the tapping of my computer keyboards. In silence, it is the moment when I can hear closely His voice; by the birds flapping their wings and twitting their nest. At night when I hear in silence the hissing and crawling of snake and insects at my backyard. Yes, do i hear Him in quite nothingness.

    Today, I hear His voice again that echoes in the field at my backyard, in the vastness of the field in the forest I saw in a distance. Yes, he speaks at the breeze and falling leaf on a branch of trees. Even his breath, i hear him in the blowing of the wind smoothly touching my hair… Even in the gentle pouring of the rain that softly flows outside my window pane, do I hear his voice.

    Such a renewing experience announcing his love in “quite nothingness.”

    Thanks be to God, Becky.

    • Just what I needed today. Thank you for your comments. I will keep holding on no matter what and trusting in God. I praise God for being there for me, even when I am irritable because I can’t feel his voice, but know I can hear him listening to music as I type on my computer, looking out of my window at the flowers, green lawn, blue sky and knowing that my husband is around. My family are in his hands as he is working for me in their lives even though nothing seems to be happening during my prayers.

  8. After settling in with God on a regular and permanent basis after a long hiatus I realized that God wants us to figure some things out for ourself. There can be many choices within his will for us. He doesn’t babysit us the way we’d like him too (come on, Lord, tell me what to do so I won’t have to sweat the decisions). When he gets quiet it’s likely to mean okay enough chatting about this, get your feet and hands moving and then we will chat some more. Motivation follows action, not the other way around.

    Sigh.

  9. When I start feeling restless with my “nothingness” situation, it is a sign of that desire for God and I stay in that desire which is also His “presence” , then He quiets me with His “absence”.

  10. Wonderful and lovely thoughts, Becky! Fullness in nothingness. I like Michele’s point on trust, too. Trust is the presence. Indeed, God can be quiet. And it could be that at the very moment, God just wants our spirit to be quiet because that’s what we need. Oftentimes, there is a tendency to view prayer as an activity, with ‘holy thoughts or insights’ as fruits or products of the activity. Fruitfulness and productivity of our prayer is measured by the thoughts, feelings, and insights we experience during prayer. But what about deep silence? I think it will be good to stop labeling those moments of deep silence ‘dry’, ‘nothing’ or ‘dark night’. Quiet fullness can be one of God’s manifestations.

  11. Another thought-filled post . I often judge my prayer time with a “what happened” kind of mind. It is only later that I am able to see, feel and hear how God “speaks” back to me. Always in unexpected gentle ways and well worth the wait!

    ” In quietness and trust is your strength”. Is 30:15

  12. I too, have these periods of dryness. I am often under the impression that everyone has a fabulous prayer life full of ah-ha moments, everyone but me.

    But regardless of what happens, I won’t quit. I try, I read, I journal, I sit, I breathe and sometimes that connected feeling comes. Still not where I want to be, but I’d like to think that it is me, rather than Him.

    m.

  13. Lovers often sit quietly in each other’s presence; knowing that just being together is a precious time. As you say, quiet nothingness exercises our trust. In silence, we trust that God is there, because He promised never to leave us or forsake us. We learn in the silence to just “be” with God.

  14. The post and comments call to mind Jim Caviezel’s turn as Edmond Dantes. In prison he could not see or feel the presence of God. But God was with him in the form if the priest played by Richard Harris. And when Edmond escaped and was consumed with revenge. The love of his life, Mercedes reminded him that God is everywhere, even in a kiss. With that kiss she brought him back to himself and he could see God again.

  15. Yes, at times my prayer can feel like “quiet nothingness” but when I recall how God has met me in the past, I know that God is here is the present and will be with me in the future. As you mentioned, the important thing is that our desire for God remains. Thank you for your wisdom in writing this post.

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